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'Top Shot' named Federal Way deputy chief of police
Federal Way Police Department’s new Deputy Chief Kyle Sumpter has spent the last two-and-a-half decades in law enforcement. From a patrol officer to detective, to a SWAT team commander and firearms instructor, Sumpter has seen it all when it comes to law enforcement.
This newest promotion, though, came at an unexpected time, he said.
“I was just actually back in the SWAT team as a team commander when this opportunity suddenly became available,” he said. “It was a sudden and unexpected opportunity. These deputy chief positions do not come around very often, and I knew that in spite of my desire to continue in SWAT and some of the other things I was involved in as a commander, I knew that now was the time I should compete for the opportunity.”
Sumpter will be the department’s third deputy chief, following in the footsteps of Brian Wilson, now Mayor Jim Ferrell’s chief of staff, and Andy Hwang, who Ferrell named police chief earlier this year. Sumpter said he hopes to bring his diverse range of skills to bear as deputy chief going forward.
“Everybody has their own perspective on law enforcement, and this is an opportunity to bring mine to this position,” he said. “We all see law enforcement just a little bit differently, and I hope to bring my background, my preparation, my perspective to the police department.”
In the short time he’s been deputy chief, Sumpter said he’s noticed there is a difference in what his new position entails.
“I noticed a significant difference, going from officer to supervisor, and it does not happen overnight,” he said. “You’re a peer for so many years, and then suddenly you’re their boss. The change from lieutenant to commander was not as dramatic; the change from commander to deputy chief is a noticeable one.”
Sumpter added the position of deputy chief entails a lot more “administrative and personnel issues,” and that he does find himself missing more of the day-to-day dealings of law enforcement, such as SWAT call-outs, or being a firearms trainer for the department.
“I’m no longer involved in preparing lessons, scheduling the ranges, and I miss that,” he said, referencing his role as a firearms trainer.
Sumpter gained national attention in recent years when he participated in two seasons of The History Channel’s “Top Shot” marksman competition.
Sumpter’s career began in 1990 when he joined the Tukwila Police Department. He arrived in Federal Way in 1996, and was a detective when he began his time at Federal Way.
“When I walked in the door, what [the department] needed were officers who knew how to file a felony case with the King County Prosecutor’s office, so when I walked in the door they made me a detective … I investigated Federal Way Police Department’s first murder case,” he recalled.
Sumpter was promoted to lieutenant in 1998 and to commander in 2001. His dealings with SWAT began in 1991 while he was still with Tukwila, and carried over to his time while in Federal Way.
Sumpter shared his thoughts on the recent spat of violence that hit Federal Way this month with the shooting deaths of Demario Washington and George Gabriel on May 7 and May 13. For Sumpter, who’s been patrolling the region for the better part of those two-and-a-half decades, the recent shootings are indicative of the cyclical nature of crime in the county.
“Every police department in our region … has flurries of significant crime, and it looks like it’s our turn now,” he said. “It takes turns revolving around the region. We deal with it as it comes and it gives us an opportunity to see where we can strengthen our position in certain neighborhoods.”
The new deputy chief concluded his thoughts on the transition by saying he plans on being a faithful second-in-command for Hwang.
“My primary job, as the deputy chief, is to support the chief and carry out his mission. That is my primary objective, to carry out the vision of Andy Hwang and run the operational details of the police department,” he said.